From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Episcopalians: Reconciliation in Canadian Diocese of New Westminster hits snag
Tue, 18 Feb 2003 12:55:13 -0500
February 18, 2003
Episcopalians: Reconciliation in Canadian Diocese of New
Westminster hits snag
by James Solheim
(ENS) Attempts at reconciliation with parishes in the Diocese of
New Westminster, in the Anglican Church of Canada, that oppose
the decision last June opening the way to blessing of
same-gender relationships has hit a serious snag.
According to Gordon Sloan, who has been facilitating the
attempts at reconciliation, the eight parishes have told him
they want to talk about separation, not reconciliation. While he
is talking with both sides to see if there are ground for
further discussion, Bishop Michael Ingham told the Diocesan
Council at its February 11 meeting that "we at this moment have
no plans to meet again. The position the diocesan
representatives took was that we were sad to hear" that
reconciliation would be difficult.
While the three sets of talks held so far have been cordial,
according to Ingham, they have not moved beyond issues of
process. "The position of the eight parishes in the
conversations has been largely to restate the position that they
have taken against homosexual relationships as unbiblical and
immoral--and against synod and myself for presuming to bless
what they believe God has condemned," he said in a diocesan news
Ingham described a January meeting where the facilitator put on
the wall a diagram of "a watershed. On one side of the watershed
was conversations towards reconciliation, meaning finding a way
of living together with difference--deep difference in
conviction, finding a way to live together in mutual respect.
And on the other side of the watershed was conversations about
Before returning to the room with the diocesan representatives,
Ingham said, "they sent a message to us via the facilitator
indicating they were no longer interested in pursuing the path
of reconciliation. While they felt the talks should continue, it
would have to be down the other side of the watershed."
The bishop said that he concluded that "they felt they could not
continue that discussion with us unless we agreed essentially to
reverse course on the synod decision." The diocese was not
willing to do that, he said. On the other hand, he told the
diocesan council that he had not decided when to release the
rite for blessing unions, delaying "to give the process of
reconciliation every possible chance."
The other side
In a February 14 news release, the eight parishes, organized as
the Anglican Communion in New Westminster (ACiNW), challenged
the diocesan interpretation of the reconciliation process.
"While it is true that talks toward reconciliation per se have
ended, the allegation that ACiNW refused to discuss anything but
separation is entirely false," said the release from Ed Hird,
executive of ACiNW. He said that he sent a memo to the diocese
explaining that ACiNW "needed time to decide how it wanted to
proceed and what issues it felt needed to be explored further."
In the statement, Hird said that "the ACiNW position has always
been that simple reconciliation on terms set out by the bishop,"
terms that do not provide "substantive provisions for
conservative parishes, is not feasible, realistic, or biblically
defensible." He said that "this incident is a demonstration as
to why the distrust between these parties is so deep and so
difficult to bridge. The gulf between our parties is indeed
painfully substantial--and the solution must be substantial as
The statement concluded, "The ACiNW remains hopeful that a
substantial solution can be reached that provides for the least
amount of disruption and honours the needs of both parties to
continue in ministry."
--James Solheim is director of Episcopal News Service.
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